Café Michael Burger closes

Café Michael Burger, 11150 FM 3005 in Galveston, has closed after more than 27 years on the island because its owner decided to retire.

Bet your boots? Hold tight. Because there could be a mechanical bull ride in your future. Representatives for Western Spherical Developers have confirmed plans to replicate Gilley’s, the famous Pasadena honky-tonk, in League City as part of a first phase of the proposed $450 million commercial development Epicenter League City.

Gilley’s, founded in 1971 by country singer Mickey Gilley, was the central location for the 1980 movie “Urban Cowboy” and defined Houston’s western dance-hall scene. There was also that famous mechanical bull. Gilley’s closed in 1989 and later its building was gutted by a fire.

In 2004, an incarnation of Gilley’s opened in Dallas next to that city’s convention center, where tourists wanted a Texas experience, cheap drinks, bull rides and western-themed entertainment.

Western Spherical Developers is in final development agreement negotiations to start work on the Gilley’s Hotel and Convention Center complex, said Linda Merritt, spokeswoman for the group. The project would repurpose an existing building on a 16-acre site at the intersection of Link and Calder roads to create an entertainment center reminiscent of the original Gilley’s, but more family friendly, they said.

City officials have billed Epicenter as a project that might one day yield four hotels, a convention center, arenas for a hockey and a baseball team, restaurants, shops and other businesses.

Western Spherical Developers had previously planned The Gilley’s Family Entertainment Center in La Porte’s 96-acre town center. The La Porte development was to have featured a 125-room full service resort-style hotel, spa and conference center. The firm ultimately canceled those plans. Merritt told The Daily News it chose League City over La Porte. Read more about that in Daily News reporter Matt deGrood’s story on page A1 today.

Bye-bye burgers: After a little more than 27 years, the popular West End island eatery Café Michael Burger has closed — but not for lack of business.

After contemplating it for a year or two, owner Debra Lichtenfeldt has retired, she confirmed.

Lichtenfeldt is selling the building and the surrounding property, which is on a little less than 2 acres at 11150 FM 3005. As soon as the property, which includes the restaurant building and lot and an empty side lot, went on the market, her phone began ringing, she said.

“People started calling, wanting to be shown the property, so I did that with several people,” she said. “They’re legitimate.”

Most of the callers are interested in opening a restaurant at the site and Lichtenfeldt is even willing to sell the well-established Café Michael Burger name, along with the restaurant building and fixtures.

The restaurant is named for German-born Michael Lichtenfeldt, who had served his apprenticeship as a chef at the world-renowned Gewandhaus, in existence since the 1300s, and had an extensive career in the U.S. restaurant industry before opening Café Michael Burger in 1992 with Debra, his wife. Michael Lichtenfeldt died in 2007.

Along with such popular fare as the Jamaica Beach Burger and the Tiki Burger, Café Michael Burger was known for German cuisine. If someone does buy the Café Michael Burger name and recipes, it’s not a sure bet they would continue such European specials as wienerschnitzel and bratwurst, Lichtenfeldt said.

Island Realtor V.J. Tramonte of Joe Tramonte Realty is the listing agent, she said.

Business was good, but Lichtenfeldt was ready to retire, she said. To the restaurant’s loyal patrons: “Thank you for the friendship and for such a long run,” she said.

That was fast: Less than two months after the Junior League of Galveston County put it on the market, the historically notable Trueheart-Adriance Building, 212 22nd St. in the island’s downtown, has new owners.

John and Catherine Buergler, who live in New Jersey, but are from Galveston, have acquired the beloved building with immediate plans to rent out the upstairs for office space and eventually rent out the downstairs space.

The Buerglers plan, several years down the road, to convert the building into a loft for their personal use, Catherine Buergler said. They also plan to soon replace the dilapidated shutters and make some improvements to the brickwork, she said.

Prominent Victorian-era island architect Nicholas Clayton designed the building, which was constructed in 1882. The Junior League acquired it in 1969 and rehabilitated it in 1971.

The Junior League of Galveston County in May announced it would sell the building because there wasn’t enough room there to convene its full membership of 300.

The building has always been one of Catherine Buergler’s favorites, she said. Her mother, Frances St. John, was president of the Galveston Historical Foundation in the 1980s and Catherine Buergler has always been interested in historic preservation, she said.

The building originally housed the real estate offices of H.M. Trueheart & Co.

Island Realtor V.J. Tramonte of Joe Tramonte Realty represented the Junior League in the transaction. Casey Howell with Re/Max Leading Edge in Galveston represented the Buerglers.

Sweet victory: Developers on Thursday marked the grand opening of West End residential community Sweetwater Cove with a gathering at the Galveston Country Club.

Infrastructure work is complete at the development and included installation of underground power lines. Several houses are underway and more are in the permitting stages for Sweetwater Cove, at the intersection of 8 Mile and Sportsman roads, said Wade Kilpatrick, a principal in the development.

Seamless Sweetwater Cove is the capital partner in the development, which will be defined by Dutch West Indies architecture. The low-density development will include 61 custom homes.

Galveston native Joe Broussard, founder and CEO of CDC Texas, is project manager.

Laura Elder: 409-683-5248; laura.elder@galvnews.com.

(1) comment

Ron Shelby

Billets in League City? That will be an interesting cultural variance to watch. It made a lot of sense for Fort Worth with its cowboy and Rodeo culture.

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